Chicago, part 1

Sitting in the training room in Chicago. Turns out that although we are training on a networked device which provides internet security, we don’t actually have an internet connection here, so I can neither check my email, blog, nor, which is most distressing, get on IRC. Sitting through a training class without having IRC to distract me will be quite a feat.

I’m here for training on the Symantec Gateway Security 5400 Series. I don’t know what that is. Hopefully, within the next two days I’ll find out.

So, anyways, the trip up here was largely uneventful. Just two things stick out from the experience. Ok, three. I forgot one.

Sitting in the Lexington airport was a *little* more interesting this time. In the past I have flown when the business travellers aren’t there, so the wireless network is quiet. This time, it was midafternoon on a Monday, so the business travellers were out in force. Also, I had
better tools this time.

A quick scan showed that there were 3 other people using the wireless. Of those, 2 were alarmingly insecure Windows machines. Unfortunately, one of them shut down and got on a plane shortly after I found him. The other was a laptop named “Patti & Tim’s Cool Laptop”. Patti & Tim, if you’re reading, you may want to consider locking down your file shares just a little bit more, or, at the very least, changing your administrator password so that it is no longer “administrator”.

No, I didn’t do anything illegal, immoral, or unethical. I suppose that someone may be able to construe it as “breaking and entering” when I left a friendly note for Patti & Tim, encouraging them to not use wireless networking until they had installed Zone Alarm. But I felt that
it was neighborly.

The next memorable thing was the guy sitting behind me on the plane. He was out to impress somebody, and he kept getting louder and louder as we travelled. Fortunately, the flight was only an hour. Apparently he managed some kind of manufacturing plants around the world. Notably in
Sao Paulo, and all over China. I learned that the rivers in Sao Paulo are exactly the same as the sludge in an American sewage treatment plant. And I learned that every business in China is composed of thieves. This guy seemed to be the classic example of the famed Ugly American, and I was glad not to be sitting next to him. Apparently he had some chip on his shoulder about someone bootlegging a product that his company made, and he was determined that every business in the world was a part of this fraud. Every one but his own, of course.

Finally, I was very impressed by the gentleman that drove the van that took me to the hotel. I did not ask him where he was from, but it was some middle-east country. He’s Visual Basic programmer, and has been in the country just a few months. He’s trying to get himself established, and make a little money, so that he can start seriously looking for a
programming job. I am always impressed by the work ethic of recent immigrants, as opposed to that of the rest of us. It is a tragedy how may of these folks end up trapped driving taxis, mopping floors, and working as attendants in nursing homes. Yes, I know, I’m supposed to want to retain the good jobs for Americans. But it’s guys like this, with dreams and ambitions, that I want to call Americans. Not to overglorify someone I don’t even know, but this is the sort of guy that made this nation great, and we do ourselves a great disservice by making it hard for guys like this to make their way here.

When I encounter folks like this, I’m always reminded of a customer that I wasted an enormous amount of my time and talent on – [NAME OMMITTED DUE TO BETTER JUDGEMENT] – an organization dedicated to denying this gentleman the priveleges and advantages of our country. They may have had a good point at some time in their history (not that I know what that would have been) but they have developed into outspoken bigots demanding that they are not bigots. They are, they claim, anti-immigration, not anti-immigrant. It becomes a very hard distinction to make, and I’m not sure it’s even possible.

Anyways, I’m just writing on and on because I don’t have a network connection, so I should probably shut up.

Oh, one more thing. I just discovered that I’m not actually signed up for this class. So apparently I’m just going to watch over someone’s shoulder. Or just sit in the back here somewhere. I’m not sure who dropped the ball on this.